Posts Tagged ‘Americans With Disabilities Act’

Leave Denial Saddles Employer With ADA Suit

You could say this employer considers medical leave a pest. The problem is it has resulted in it being sued for disability discrimination.

Massey Services, Inc., a pest control and landscaping company which operates service centers in seven states, violated federal law when it denied an employee’s request for medical leave, fired her after learning of her medical condition and subsequently failed to rehire her for the vacant position, the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it recently filed.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Massey denied the request by Annie Mitchell, who worked at Massey’s North Charleston facility, for leave after she became hospitalized due to her disability, and instead discharged her from her position.  The EEOC’s suit further alleges that the company actively recruited other candidates for the office manager position and refused to rehire Mitchell, who expressed interest in being rehired into the position, in retaliation for her accom­modation request.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Massey Services, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-00263-RMG-MGB) in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Mitchell, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent future discrimina­tion.

“The ADA affords people with disabilities the right to employment benefits without fear of negative employment actions by their employers,” said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “It is imperative that employers comprehend and uphold their duty to protect that right, particularly as it pertains to people who are most susceptible to mistreatment.”

Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office, added, “Federal law does not allow employers to terminate an employee merely because the employer believes there are medical issues.”

Massey Services operates service centers throughout Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina and Oklahoma.

Leave Times Focus of ADA Settlement Between EEOC and Metropolitan Jewish Health System

It should be smoother sailing for employees with disabilities at this workplace who need time off for medical leave.

The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Metropolitan Jewish Health System (MJHS) have reached a voluntary conciliation agreement to resolve allegations of disability discrimination raised by a former employee who filed a charge with the EEOC alleging she was denied a reasonable accommodation and discharged in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA).

Following an investigation, the EEOC concluded that MJHS denied the former employee a reasonable accommodation when it discharged her, and that its employment policies concerning absences conflicted with and violated the ADAA.

Without agreeing that any wrongdoing occurred, MJHS agreed to enter a conciliation agreement with the EEOC. As part of that agreement, MJHS will revise its policies to comply with the ADA and provide ongoing training to ensure that both management and staff understand their rights and obligations under the ADA. Respondent demonstrated its commitment to pursue compliance with the ADA by voluntarily committing to post notices of the conciliation agreement, and file reports concerning reasonable accommodations, disability related terminations and discrimination complaints periodically to the EEOC. Charging Party was also compensated as part of the agreement a total of $132,500.

“We commend MJHS for its proactive measures to ensure that persons with a medical need for time off are reasonably accommodated in accordance with the ADA,” said EEOC New York District Office Director· Kevin Berry. “We appreciate that MJHS was founded upon core values of compassion, dignity and respect and this agreement is consistent with those values.” Under this agreement, MJHS will revise its policies to ensure that a flexible, case-by-case approach is used to determine whether leave times can be reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

The EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in New York, northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

EEOC Gets $125K for Fired Asthmatic Employee

This California hotel might wish it had been as accommodating to this disabled employee as it is to its guests.

The U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced November 29 the settlement of a  disability discrimination lawsuit against Merritt Hospitality, LLC and HEI  Hotels and Resorts, LLC, which have agreed to pay $125,000 and provide other  injunctive relief. This settlement was approved by the U.S. District Court of  Southern California.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, an  employee at the Embassy Suites hotel in San Diego was assigned to a workspace  that did not have ventilation or windows. These working conditions exacerbated  the employee’s disability, causing significant breathing issues. The employee  immediately informed the company that she needed an accommodation for her  disability. The company failed to provide her with an effective accommodation.  Within days of this request, the employee was forced to the emergency room  where she remained overnight due to the severity of her condition. Instead of  engaging in the interactive process with the employee, the company fired her,  the EEOC charged.

Such conduct violates the Americans  with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for  the Southern District of California (U.S. EEOC v.Merritt Hospitality, LLC et al., Case No. 3:18-cv-0654 MMA-AGS)  after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation agreement through its  conciliation process. The court will maintain jurisdiction over this case for  the term of the five-year consent decree.

In addition to monetary relief, Merritt  Hospitality has agreed to retain an EEO monitor; appoint an internal ADA  coordinator; revise its written policies and procedures regarding compliance  with the ADA; create and maintain an accommodation log; implement training to  all employees on the ADA; develop a centralized tracking system for accommodation  requests and discrimination complaints; and submit annual reports to the EEOC  verifying compliance with the decree.

“The interactive process is an  integral part of the ADA and requests for accommodations must be taken  seriously,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles  District Office, which includes San Diego in its jurisdiction. “We are  encouraged that Merritt Hospitality and HEI Hotels and Resorts have put in  place meaningful measures to address disability discrimination and create a  more inclusive workplace.”

Christopher Green, director of the  EEOC’s San Diego Local Office, added, “The EEOC strives to dispel the stereotype  that providing  reasonable accommodations  will have a negative impact on employers. The injunctive relief put in place by  this decree will have a long-lasting effect on the company and all its  employees.”

One of the six national priorities  identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) is for the EEOC  to address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including  issues involving the ADA and pregnancy-related limitations, among other  possible issues.

Rescinded Job Offer Draws EEOC Lawsuit Under ADA; Safety Fears Unfounded, Agency Alleges

Another employer is learning that fears about a job applicant’s disability are not sufficient legal grounds for denying the person a job.

Exide Technologies, a global corporation headquartered in Milton, Ga., that manufactures, distributes and sells stored energy components, violated federal law when it rescinded its job offer to an applicant after it learned that he suffered from a medical condition, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed November 15.

According to the EEOC’s suit, on May 12, 2015, Exide made Gregory Greene a conditional job offer as a machine operator at its manufacturing facility in Columbus, Ga. When Greene went for a post-offer company physical, Exide learned he has chronic kidney disease. As a result of unfounded fears about his ability to perform the job safely, Exide unlawfully rescinded its job offer to Greene three days later, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Exide Technologies Inc., Civil Action No. 4:18-cv-00229-CDL) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Columbus Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking reinstatement, back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Greene, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent future discrimination.

“An employer cannot refuse to hire a qualified applicant simply because of fears about a disability,” said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “The employer is required to first do an independent analysis about whether the employee’s disability poses a direct threat of harm to himself or others. Rescinding a disabled applicant’s job offer based on assumptions about the person and his disability violates federal law, and the EEOC is here for the rights of victims of such baseless discrimination.”

Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, district director of the Atlanta office, said, “The EEOC is committed to stopping workplace disability discrimination in Georgia and across the country. Under the ADA, employers are not permitted to deny an employment opportunity to a person with a disability based on generalized fears and assumptions.”

EEOC Secures $65K For Kidney Disease Sufferer

This employee at a Whole Foods Market in North Carolina deserved better when it came to her seeking treatment for a kidney disorder, federal civil rights enforcers charged.

Whole Foods Market Group, Inc.,  doing business as Whole Foods Market, headquartered in Austin, Texas, will pay  $65,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit  brought by the U.S. Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced November 5.  The EEOC had charged that Whole Foods Market  violated federal law by failing to accommodate and firing an employee because  of her disability.

According  to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Whole Foods hired Diane Butler in 2005 as a cashier for  a facility in Raleigh, N.C. Butler has polycystic kidney disease, a genetic  disease causing uncontrolled growth of cysts in the kidney, eventually leading  to kidney failure. In 2009, while working for Whole Foods, Butler had a kidney  transplant. The EEOC said that in December 2015, Butler missed work on two  occasions because she had been hospitalized and needed to visit the doctor  because of her kidney. The EEOC further alleged that although Butler informed  Whole Foods that she needed time off due to her kidney impairment, the company  nonetheless fired Butler because of her absences.

Such  alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which  protects employees from discrimination based on a disability and requires  employers to provide employees with disabilities with reasonable accommodations  unless it would be an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District  Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division (Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission v. Whole Foods Market Group, Inc. d/b/a Whole  Foods Market; Civil Action No 5:17-cv-00494-FL) after first attempting to reach  a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In  addition to the $65,000 in damages, the two-year consent decree settling the  suit requires that Whole Foods Market develop a disability accommodation  policy. In addition, the company will provide annual training to its South  Region human resource employees, and to managers and supervisors at its Wade  Avenue store on the requirements of the ADA, including reasonable accommodation.  Whole Foods Market must also post an employee notice concerning the lawsuit and  employee rights under federal anti-discrimination laws.

“An  employer who is on notice that an employee’s absence is related to her  disability must comply with the ADA’s mandate to reasonably accommodate her by  making exceptions to its absenteeism policy if doing so doesn’t cause an undue  hardship,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte  District. “Ignoring federal anti-discrimination law only makes things worse for  a company as well as employees.”

No Logic Here: Northwest Staffing Company Sued by EEOC for Not Hiring Deaf Applicant

The lawsuits against employers that refuse to give deaf applicants a fair shot at a job keep piling up.

A Western Washington staffing and recruiting company violated federal law when it refused to consider a qualified job applicant because he is deaf, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed November 1.

According to the EEOC’s investigation, Keysi Severino-Gomez applied online for warehouse positions in Tacoma advertised by Logic Staffing. Work he was well-qualified to perform. Severino-Gomez, who is deaf, utilized Video Relay Service (VRS) to return a call left by a Logic Staffing recruiter regarding his application. Realizing Severino-Gomez is deaf, the recruiter immediately told him he could not do the warehouse job and that his inability to hear would pose a safety risk. Severino-Gomez repeatedly noted he had successfully performed similar work in the past without any safety issues. The recruiter then placed Severino-Gomez on hold to consult with her manager, but returned to state that Logic Staffing did not hire people who are deaf and ended the call.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which prohibits rejecting a qualified applicant because of a disability. The EEOC filed suit (CIV# 18-CV-1594) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The EEOC’s lawsuit seeks lost wages, front pay, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.

“Mr. Severino-Gomez was highly qualified for the position to which he applied and deserved the opportunity to be judged based on his abilities instead of Logic Staffing’s unfounded and discriminatory beliefs,” said William Tamayo, the EEOC’s San Francisco district office director. “Congress enacted the ADA to prevent employers from refusing to hire qualified applicants based on myths, fears or stereotypes concerning disability.”

EEOC Regional Attorney Roberta Steele said, “This is the third lawsuit we’ve filed this year on behalf of a qualified deaf applicant denied the opportunity to interview, and we recently announced a settlement obtaining $88,000 and a job position for another qualified deaf job seeker. These are candidates with valuable skills and experience, and it is wrong to shut them out of the workplace based on fears and stereotypes about being deaf.”

EEOC Trial Attorney Linda Ordonio-Dixon said, “Employers cannot make a blanket decision to exclude job applicants because of a disability. The EEOC will vigorously protect the rights of employees, and job applicants, to ensure they are given the same opportunities in the workplace as any other person.”

According to www.logicstaffing.com, Logic Staffing has offices in Tacoma, Sumner and Kent, and, in 2017, placed more than 900 temporary employees in Western Washington.

Cabinet Maker in Hot Seat With EEOC Over Policy on Prescribed Medications; Faces ADA Lawsuit

Another employer has allegedly run afoul of the ADA over its policy regarding medical inquiries. and applicants who take legal drugs.

Appalachian Wood Products, Inc., a Clearfield, Pa.-based major supplier of cabinet components to the kitchen and bath industry, violated federal law when it subjected applicants to unlawful medical inquiries and refused to hire qualified applicants based on their disability or medical treatment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced October 8.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, in June 2017, the company refused to hire an applicant for a factory position because he was taking medically prescribed suboxone without considering whether it affected his ability to do the job safely. The EEOC said that since at least October 2016, Appalachian Wood Products has unlawfully barred job applicants from certain positions if they were taking prescribed medications for drug addiction treatment, such as suboxone or methadone, without evaluating whether such medications affect their ability to perform the job safely. The lawsuit also charges that Appalachian Wood Products has unlawfully required applicants to disclose their use of medications prior to making conditional job offers and then refused to hire them into certain jobs or assigned them to less desirable positions based on their answers to these illegal medical inquiries.

Refusing to hire a qualified individual because of his disability, record of disability or because the employer perceives a person as being disabled violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA also places strict limits on employers when it comes to asking job applicants to answer medical questions, take a medical exam, or identify a disability. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Appalachian Wood Products, Civil Action No. 3:18-cv-00198) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“Federal law prohibits employers from subjecting applicants to pre-job offer medical exams or inquiries, and strictly regulates post-offer medical examinations, so that applicants can be fairly evaluated on their actual qualifications,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “Employers risk violating the law if they make employment decisions based on unfounded fears or generalized assump­tions about an applicant or employee’s disability or the possible effects of their medical treatment.”

EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson added, “As the country grapples with an opioid addiction crisis, unfortunately there are many myths and biases about people recovering from drug addiction and the treatments for it. Under the ADA, employers may test for illegal drug use, but medically prescribed suboxone or methadone are not illegal drugs. Rather, they are common and effective treatments for individuals recovering from drug addiction, and any possible side effects of those treatments must be assessed on an individualized basis.”

The lawsuit was commenced by the EEOC’s Pittsburgh Area Office, one of four component offices of the agency’s Philadelphia District Office. The Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.